FBI Confirms Zodiac Killer’s Infamous 340 Cipher Has Been Decoded, And His Message Finally Revealed

A team of codebreakers decided to try and crack the code specifically because they knew it would be a challenge

David Oranchak, Sam Blake, and Jarl Van Eycke used software to help them break the cipher, first by finding the many possible reading directions that could be used if the cipher was transpositional. By sheer luck, Oranchak found that one solution for how the cipher could be transposed revealed fragments of messages, including “hope you are,” “trying to catch me” and “or the gas chamber”.

This gave them clues that the message wasn’t transcribed in one big block as it was presented, but instead was broken into three smaller blocks of text made up of nine lines, followed by nine lines, followed by a final two.

By starting in the top left hand corner, then moving down one line and across two spaces to get the next letter, a key which could be translated into letters and then words emerged. The letter “B” for instance, was represented by “□7”, “c” by a simple “9” and “A” by a whole load of symbols unavailable on a keyboard. You can see these neatly shown in the video released by the team below. 

Through use of this method, and some slight adjustments by ignoring a few words that stood out before transposing the text, a message was revealed:

I HOPE YOU ARE HAVING LOTS OF FUN IN TRYING TO CATCH ME
THAT WASNT ME ON THE TV SHOW
WHICH BRINGS UP A POINT ABOUT ME
I AM NOT AFRAID OF THE GAS CHAMBER
BECAUSE IT WILL SEND ME TO PARADICE ALL THE SOONER
BECAUSE I NOW HAVE ENOUGH SLAVES TO WORK FOR ME
WHERE EVERYONE ELSE HAS NOTHING WHEN THEY REACH PARADICE
SO THEY ARE AFRAID OF DEATH
I AM NOT AFRAID BECAUSE I KNOW THAT MY NEW LIFE IS
LIFE WILL BE AN EASY ONE IN PARADICE DEATH 

“Of all the things that stood out was the line ‘that wasn’t me on the TV show’,” Oranchak explained in the video. “At this point I jumped out of my chair because I knew the cipher was received on November 8, 1969, which is about two weeks after someone calling themselves Zodiac called into a TV talk show hosted by Jim Dunbar. While the caller was on the air, he said ‘I need help, I’m sick, I don’t want to go to the gas chamber.'”

This for Oranchak made the solution seem real, as it fit with the events around the time it was received. The rest of the message also seemed quite in character for the Zodiac Killer. 

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Cold case team says Zodiac Killer ID’d, linking him to another murder

A team of specialists who investigate cold cases says it has identified the Zodiac Killer, one of America’s most prolific serial murderers who terrorized communities in the San Francisco area in the late 1960s with a series of brutal slayings and unsolvable riddles.

The Case Breakers, a team of more than 40 former law enforcement investigators, journalists and military intelligence officers, has tackled other mysteries such as the D.B. Cooper hijacking heist, the disappearance of former labor union boss Jimmy Hoffa and other unsolved cases. The group believes the killer is responsible for a slaying hundreds of miles away that was never linked to him. 

The Zodiac Killer has been connected to five murders that occurred in 1968 and 1969 in the San Francisco area. Unlike most serial killers, the Zodiac taunted authorities with complex ciphers in letters sent to newspapers and law enforcement. The slayings have spawned books, movies and documentaries in the years since, and amateur and professional sleuths have pored over the case in an effort to unmask the killer. 

In the decades since the first murder, many potential suspects have been investigated. 

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French Engineer Claims to Have Cracked Zodiac Killer’s Remaining Ciphers

An engineer in France believes that he has cracked the two remaining ciphers written by the infamous Zodiac Killer, but convincing other researchers has proven to be a far more difficult puzzle to solve. Back in December, Faycal Ziraoui reportedly became intrigued by the indecipherable missives said to have been penned by the serial killer and set about trying to unravel the mystery that has stumped researchers and experts for over 50 years. “I was obsessed with it, 24 hours a day, that’s all I could think about,” he recalled. Amazingly, Ziraoui claims to have managed to decode the messages in a mere two weeks, which understandably raised eyebrows in the often contentious world of Zodiac research.

After confidently posting his findings online, Ziraoui almost immediately found his work dismissed by highly skeptical individuals who have spent years studying the case. They largely argued that the two ciphers are simply too short to ever truly be confirmed at correctly decoded, since they consist of only 32 and 13 characters respectively. Dubious of that critique, Ziraoui’s brother postulated that the community of armchair researchers really took issue with the codes being cracked because “these people don’t want the game to end.” That said, beyond the online world, opinions of the engineer’s work is also divided as a pair of French cryptographers have lent credence to Ziraoui’s research, while a third argued that there are flaws with his methodology.

To that end, Ziraoui says that he based his process for decoding the letters on the much-heralded solution to a Zodiac cipher that was announced late last year. He proceeded to take the encryption key for that letter and applied it to the last remaining unsolved missives, dubbed Z32 and Z13. After using a few different cryptographic techniques, which he details in-depth on YouTube, Ziraoui ultimately came upon what he believes is the solution to the coded messages. Specifically, he says, one cipher contains coordinates for where the serial killer claimed to have hidden a bomb and the other actually reveals the name of the mysterious murderer. That individual, Ziraoui contends, was a man named Lawrence Kaye, who has long been considered a Zodiac suspect by one faction of the research community.

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Zodiac’s cipher codebreaker speaks out: Killer was his own self-defeating “publicist”

Sam Blake, an Australian mathematician, first learned of the Zodiac Killer’s unsolved ciphers — a series of encrypted messages — from a documentary in the 1990s. His interest marginally increased in 2007 after the release of David Fincher’s “Zodiac,” but it wasn’t until last year that it completely was cemented while watching code-breaking expert David Oranchak’s “Let’s Crack Zodiac” YouTube series. 

The series was dedicated to solving the codes the Northern California serial killer sent in letters to newspapers in the late 1960s and early 1970s. One of the ciphers, called the 408 cipher, was solved in 1969 by a schoolteacher and his wife, but it did not reveal the killer’s identity; the additional three puzzles remained unsolved for over 51 years, despite advances in computer technology. 

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What a Mathematician Learned From Cracking the Zodiac Killer’s Code

A group of three hobbyist cryptographers last week cracked one of the most infamous ciphers created by the Zodiac Killer, more than half-a-century after the murderer claimed their first confirmed victim.

The unnamed Zodiac killed at least five people in Northern California between the late 1960s and early 1970s, and derived their pseudonym from a series of taunting letters sent to the San Francisco Bay Area press up until 1974. Those letters included four cryptic messages, known as “ciphers.” Up until a few days ago, only one of those ciphers had ever been convincingly decoded.

Cryptologist David Oranchak, who has been trying to crack the notorious “340 cipher” (it contains 340 characters) for more than a decade, made a crucial breakthrough earlier this year when applied mathematician Sam Blake came up with about 650,000 different possible ways in which the code could be read. From there, using code-breaking software designed by Jarl Van Eycke, the team’s third member, they came up with a small number of valuable clues that helped them piece together a message in the cipher:

“I HOPE YOU ARE HAVING LOTS OF FUN IN TRYING TO CATCH ME 

THAT WASNT ME ON THE TV SHOW 

WHICH BRINGS UP A POINT ABOUT ME 

I AM NOT AFRAID OF THE GAS CHAMBER 

BECAUSE IT WILL SEND ME TO PARADICE ALL THE SOONER 

BECAUSE I NOW HAVE ENOUGH SLAVES TO WORK FOR ME 

WHERE EVERYONE ELSE HAS NOTHING WHEN THEY REACH PARADICE 

SO THEY ARE AFRAID OF DEATH 

I AM NOT AFRAID BECAUSE I KNOW THAT MY NEW LIFE IS

LIFE WILL BE AN EASY ONE IN PARADICE DEATH”

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Genius! These codebreakers just cracked the Zodiac Killer’s infamous 340 cipher, 51 YEARS after it was first published.

On December 5th, 2020 Sam Blake, Jarl Van Eycke, David Oranchak finally cracked the Zodiac Killer’s unsolved 340-character cipher.

The Zodiac Killer was a serial killer who was active in Northern California in the 1960s and ’70s. His name came from the taunting letters he would send to the San Francisco Bay Area press which included a total of four ciphers. It was confirmed that he killed at least five people, though he claimed to have murdered 37.

Police still don’t know the identity of the Zodiac Killer, though they’ve long hoped that solving his ciphers would reveal more details about him.

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